Notes from the Field: RISD's Fleet Library

Categories // March 2014, 2014, Field Notes

Perhaps this post actually serves to highlight two beautiful and unique libraries in Providence: the Rhode Island School of Design's Fleet Library, and the Providence Athenaeum.

Did you know that members of the Athenaeum have borrowing privileges at RISD's library? While I had known this detail, I had yet to actually take advantage of my access to Fleet in the year that I have been an Athenaeum member. So when I learned that the Athenaeum and Fleet Library were hosting an evening introductory tour for members, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to learn more about this partnership. 

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The Providence Athenaeum and Fleet Library share a catalog, and upon joining the Athenaeum, members receive a card that allows them access into Fleet, and regular borrowing privileges. The collection at Fleet will of course be interesting to anyone interested in art or design. Perhaps also of interest: a fairly robust section on museum studies and curation. 

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How does Fleet's collection relate to Rhode Island history? The library is home to the graduate theses created by members of Rhode Island's creative community - in essence documenting the work of the artists, architects, and designers learning and working within the state. The picture clippings housed on the second floor of the library also document the press coverage of these artists throughout their careers. I love to be reminded that history is really a living organism, and documenting the work of local contemporaries is just adding to the record that researchers will use indefinitely in the future.

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The Material Resource Center on the second floor of the library was a particular crowd-pleaser on the tour. It's easy to see why: 

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RISD's primary audience may be the faculty, students, and museum staff, but the library is open to outside users with relevant research interests. (See their Library Policies for more information.) And of course, the library is open to Providence Athenaeum members at no additional cost. (To learn more about becoming an Athenaeum member, see their Membership page.)

And of course, don't forget to look through the libraries in the RHODI directory to see what else our state has to offer. 

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